In my new book, Why Smart Kids Worry, I share 15 tools that parents can use with anxious kids. Many of the tools can be used in any situation but I am targeting three in this article that work well for back to school anxiety:
1. Square Breathing – Teaching your child this breathing method is useful in the early stages of anxiety. Breathing relaxes the body, counting takes their mind off fear, and it’s a simple tool they can take anywhere. To do Square Breathing, breathe in for full four seconds (like you’re breathing in the smell of fresh baked chocolate chip cookies), hold your breath for four seconds, blow out for four seconds (like you are blowing gently to cool the cookies off) and rest for four seconds. Kids should repeat the cycle three times and practice every night before bedtime. This is a great activity for parents and kids to do together and will help the first day of school go by much easier.
2. Worry Time – Setting aside 15 minutes a day for a child to express their worries is useful for children who repeat the same fears or talk incessantly about their anxieties. Worry times gives anxious minds a boundary and awareness, while satisfying the child’s need to be heard. If your child brings up a worry outside of Worry Time, redirect them by saying, “I want to hear what you have to say but let’s wait until Worry Time.” What you will find is that by Worry Time, many of their fears will have gone away.
3. Change the Channel – Anxious minds focus on the negative and when kids have something anxiety-producing coming up (like the first day of school) they often think of everything that could go wrong instead of what could go right. Changing the Channel teaches kids that just like you can change the channel on a television, you can change how you think about a certain event. You can help kids Change the Channel by choosing a positive thought such as “I can do this,” or “It’ll be okay,” to replace their negative thoughts. And who knows? They may suggest that you Change the Channel when you get in a negative place yourself!
For more information about my book click here: Why Smart Kids Worry